This is a picture of a man I befriended on FACEBOOK under the belief he was a reader of my novels. He said his name was ROBERTO ONORATI and lived in New York. I get a lot of hits on my blog from the US so was not surprised at the contact. But yesterday coloured lights started to flash and loud bells began to ring when the discourse took a sinister turn.
Please note I have relayed the messages as they were sent.
RO: There is something I want you to do for me as a friend Please life is all about trust can I tell you I am in a little problem and will need your help.
Me: How can I help?
RO: Yea thank God Am in offshore job right now and my kid needs to pay some tuition fee in boarding if not they will drive him home. I want you to help me and promise to pay back there is no way I can send money. I want you to trust me please if you can help its just $350 can you help me please.
I DID NOT REPLY AND IMMEDIATELY ALERTED MY SON.
MESSENGER: You missed a call from Roberto. Sat: 8:57.
I DID NOT CALL BACK, but instead referred it to my son as it was news to me one could make calls to speak personally on FB messenger.
RO: Hello please reply me when you get the text I am in desperate need to help my son According to staff he has been crying since yesterday I don’t want him getting hurt, please help me.
After further discussion with my son at what I should do to stop this happening to someone else who just might be taken in by this person, I contacted FACEBOOK and ACTION FRAUD UK, but was not impressed with their replies which are computer generated. It seems a crime has to be committed, and some unsuspecting person has to be fraudulently relieved of some of their cash before anyone will do anything about it. I do understand there are certain people who will derive pleasure from maliciously reporting malpractices on the social media, but one hears of so many of these scams that at least they should be looked at individually. The answer is not to simply unfriend the person who will then go on to their next victim. Can nothing be done to stop these people?
I do suspect, though, the picture above is of a perfectly innocent man whose photograph has been stolen from somewhere only to be used to fraudulently obtain money by deception. And if my suspicions are correct them I hope the man above will be as annoyed as I am that someone is using him in this way.
After a lengthy pause, the last message RO sent reads: ‘Hello dear please replace me’ What the hell does that mean?
But do you know what annoyed me the most, was the fact he thought I would be that gullible. But looking on the positive side, being a writer I now have another scenario for a story on my growing list.